Tag Archives: wikimania

Wikimania 2008 wrap-up notes

Wikimania 2008 was a blast. Here are just a few more bits of information that didn’t have a place in other posts.

Wikimania logoImage via Wikipedia

Cool projects

PediaPress is a project that allows you to turn Wikipedia pages into actual books. They have an open-source MediaWiki extension, so you can run this on your own wiki. The coolest thing is that they’re going to be integrated into official Wikipedia wiki’s, so the whole world will be able to get their paper Wikipedia quickly and cheaply. Kudos go to Heiko and Johannes for getting this far with it.

UniWiki is a set of usability extensions for MediaWiki, developed by Unicef. They’re using wiki’s in 3rd world countries to help spread knowledge and to allow collaboration between schools from all over the world. They’ve done some impressive testing and improvement, so these extensions are something you should consider for your MediaWiki. The only problem right now is that they’re actually very hard to find. I’ll try to get a better idea how to get this working and post a follow-up blog post on this subject.

Wikia Search data dumps. While we’ve all tried the Wikia search, it’s not so well known fact that they have database dumps of everything. This should make some interesting research possible. Incidentally, this is exactly what Franklin st. statement proposes.

OLPC in Europe. There were some rumors that this Christmas they’re going to repeat funding drive that they had last year in USA. It’s not going to be limited only to USA, so we’ll be able to get them on this side of the pond.

FLOSS Manuals is a project that’s creating Free Manuals for Free Software. The idea is to create communities around different software projects that then work together to write really great manuals. Some of them are also available as printed versions.

Kaltura – Open Source video editing platform. Idea here is to be able to edit a video, just like a wiki. They have their own Flash player and can fully attach to MediaWiki pages.


General impressions

Overall it was a great conference. For some reason I’ve felt a bit of disconnect with local attendees but that is probably my own fault. Conference organizers did an incredibly good job with the whole organization. The only wish I would have for the next time is to make sure there is water available at the venue. It was a bit strange to only have some coffee and tea available, but it was easy enough to find a near street-corner vendor with water. 


What I learned about future of Wikipedia and Wikimedia foundation

I learned that they are working very hard. But it’s a really young organization that’s only starting to grow. So for now it seems that their goals for next year is to just make the whole operations as stable as possible that will allow them for further growth and bigger projects.

Having better search, WYSIWYG editor, better uploads and more projects is on their TODO list, but to be able to achieve that they have to make sure their infrastructure (both technical and real-world) is working well enough. I can fully respect that.

There was also some buzz on finally getting tagged revisions in. This will allow to create non-vandalized snapshots of pages through time (or at least that is my envisioning of usage).


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Wikimedia Commons for Fun and Profit – Brianna Laugher [Wikimedia 2008 notes]

Wikimedia Commons logoImage via Wikipedia

What is Wikimedia Commons:


  • Central resource for Wikimedia
  • Wiki – anyone can edit, be bold, etc.
  • Media – it’s not text, it’s especially images
  • Multilingual – all the languages inside the single wiki
  • Free Content – all the files are availalbe under Free Licenses
  • Community – lots of people who consider this their “wiki home”


It’s a rapidly growing project – 3 million+ files!


Wikipedia has now single user login, so they’re expecting to increase their database even more.


Technical problems




  • Single user login
  • Inline video player
  • Thumbnails in search results
  • Email notifications of talk page changes


Wish list for the future:


  • Global Whatlinkshere (check-usage) – it’s important to help administrators and keep copyright infringement out
  • Automatic transfer
  • Move/rename images – a move tab. Now you need to use bots to do that.
  • Integrated workflow – like having a way if someone already checked the file
  • Write (upload) via MediaWiki API - 
  • Category display/sorting options
  • Category i18n
  • Batch uploading
  • Upload form customisability
  • Searching template fields as a database
  • Improved Right-To-Left interface display
  • Multilingual interface for non users
  • A/V format conversion on upload
  • Integrated image editing (esp. SVGs)
  • Integrated geo-stuff – as part of MediaWiki, not templates
  • Automatic user upload gallery
  • Category/user feeds
  • File rating systems
  • [.. and a few more .. ☺]


Commons API

MediaWiki has an API, but the community builds structure in the wiki (templates, categories).

How can register user reliably determine a file’s license and author.


Mangnus – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Magnus_Manske – has create a tool for that: http://toolserver.org/~magnus/commonsapi.php


Quality processes


  • Featured pictures
  • Quality images
  • Valued images


A way to encourage people to contribute and recognize their contribution.


Cheerleading, partnerships


  • Picture of the day
  • Picture of the year
  • Meet our photographers
  • Meet our illustrators
  • Pearson Scott Foresman – educational publisher donated illustrations (in paper); now they community is tagging and categorizing them and adding other meta-data
  • Wikipedia Takes Manhattan – people took photos of Manthattan, lots of high quality pictures of important buildings and places
  • (PGIP)


Policies and guidelines

GFDL (for text)

It’s a central repository

They want high quality images and meta-data

It’s a volunteer project

[and lots of other information that was too fast to present]


Major challenges

Usability – too much warnings, quite scary to upload file


Project relationships – all the communities need to work together; some local wikipedias are already requiring people to upload to commons directly

Partnerships – it’s hard to make good connections with institutions on volunteer base


Wikimedia Commons, readers’ view / Censorship

Top views show pictures related to sexuality. There is currently a proposal in working that require files to be realistically useful. The problem is that the project doesn’t want to be historically short-sighted.

Hot topics: Violence, Nationalism, Religion, Sex!

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Use of wikis for political participation > Three initiatives in Spain – Enric Senable Hidalgo [Wikimania 2008 notes]

Those...Image by fataetoile /Cinzia via Flickr

What is political participation:


  • Collaborate for a common constructive objective
  • Practice and defend freedom of speech
  • Freely meet and engage with people and causes
  • Discuss in order to obtain census
  • Engage in non-economic initiatives
  • Consume with responsibility
  • Watch the watchers
  • [and much more..]


Voting from time to time is also a form of political participation.


What’s the political participation with involvement of ICT?



  • New ways/tools of interaction
  • New public spheres for discussion
  • New and easy platforms for publishing


This can lead to



  • Identity empowerment (Castells)
  • More critical and self-reflective culture (Benkler)
  • Networked individualism (Wellman)
  • Smart mobs (Rheingold)


Example: “pasalo!” (pass it on)


As a response of 11th of March 2004 bombing in Spain, there were big demonstrations. Vast majority of people were summoned through a viral SMS and/or word of mouth.




  • Official web pages
  • Online administration
  • Online petitions
  • Electronic votes
  • Referendums/polls


Civils/grassroot organisations:


  • News
  • Forums
  • Mailing lists
  • Chats
  • Chain emails
  • SMS
  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Social networks
  • 3D worlds
  • Wikis


Interesting problem of electronic voting: it requires electricity. This can be a real problems in some parts of the country.



Coordination: Vivienda digna (Street demonstrations for a decent house)


Origins started in an email chain message. Calling for a sit-in demonstration, positive demonstrations. Wiki of a famous blogger hosted the content and it was increased and more detailed crosspostings.

There was organical growth of related issues:

Open lists (organizing other places, blogs, press, logos, etc.)

Collaborative creation of content (manifestos, SMS messages, safety measures, legal issues)

It was a successful use of wiki and impact on public propaganda. But it failed to change the political decisions.


Memory: Lo prometido es deuda (A promise is a promise)

Similar to Wikiquote, but the objective is exclusive to find and archive campaign promises.

It got coverage in all major online Spanish newspapers.

It was a successful use of a wiki. It had impact on public opinion. Yet it did not impact political agenda.


Modify: Wikiconstitucion (Altering a common text)

Objective was to let anyone alter the original constitutional text, even for vandalism.

First two months: daily changes to the more controversial issues (crown of Spain, Spanish military forces, official languages, autonomous regions)

Progressive inactivity and finally closed due to massive spam.

It was partly successful use of Wiki, but it didn’t have impact in public opinion or a political agenda.

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Angela Beesley – Beyond encylopedias – The rest of the library [Wikimania 2008 notes]

Nature’s SunshineImage by Capture Queen ™ via Flickr

Wikipedia, 10million articles and lots of articles. Isn’t that enough, so why would we need other wiki’s?


Wikipedia is not a lot of heap of things – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NOT


So what do you do with these things?


Wikimedia has educational goal. There is another company Wikia, that runs these specialized wiki’s.


Variation of popularity within Wikia


 -> 5000 very active users per month in gaming but only 183 in books

< 10,000 monthly pageviews in health, compared to 11.3 million for WoWWiki alone.


Health wikis

Zh-tw.med.wikia.com is the most visited health wiki at Wikia bus has < 600 pages

Locked down editing is common

 – E.g. – Elsevier’s “Wiser wiki” asks for verification of physician qualitifactions


Wikipedia is far more detailed and complete than the largest specialist health wikis. So health is not really working on separe wiki’s. One of the reasons for this could be that it’s a encyclpedia topic and encourage in Wikipedia.


Gaming content

The content is reguraly delted from Wikipedia. Doesn’t fit the “textbook” model. It’s often seen as trivial or non-important.


Wikibooks also has policy it’s not for for video game strategy guides.


Topics deemed “unenycyclopedic” can thrive on their own. The 3 top gaming wikis have more articles then all the health wiki’s combined.


Comics and Wikipedia

  • Controversy led to creation of Comixpedia
  • Still many comic-related deletions
  • Growing number of independent comics wikis
  • Marvel Database has 26,000 articles.



In 2004 lots of recipes got deleted from Wikipedia. Wikipedia asks people to add recipes to Wikibooks Cookbooks, but it’s often not well received. You can’t add variations of recipes and such.


Wikipedia and social networking

People tried playing chess on Wikipedia, or do social networks. All of these things were deleted.


Wikia builds into software itself tools that allow such operations.


What is needed regarding deletion:

  • Better workflow for information initially in the wrong place
  • Easier ways to find the correct place



A bot takes articles thar are listed for non-speedy deletion

Archives them where they can be reused by other wikis, with full attribution.


What is needed

  • Links between projects:
  • Part of interface
  • Automated
  • Appealing


This also works for languages. It’s also possible to do Geo-location so Wikipedia could suggest right place.



  • Less loss of content; more availability of free content
  • Less loss of contributors
  • Less ill-feeling toward Wikipedia



Jimmy Wales – Wikia search


Search principles

  • Transparency
  • Collaboration
  • Quality
  • Privacy


Designing a search editing process that it’s Wiki like. It’s a very different thing in a search context. It’s about links, much more granular piece of information. People really like debating and discussing things, and not add links without lots of social context.


Wikia Search it’s whitelisting pages that are community related.


When you search, you get different options next to search results. You can edit, annotate, spotlight, delete. There’s a full transparency of who changed what etc.


They’re trying “Facebook style” profile pages. 


Search roadmap

Wikia expecst it to be at least 1.5 years before we will be fully competitive

Their mission right now is to build the tools and community


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Brian McNeil, Craig Spurrier – Wikinews for Wikipedians – How News is easier then an Encyclopedia [Wikimania 2008 notes]

The current Wikinews logoImage via Wikipedia

Wikinews is:


  • Easy
  • A type of document you see every day
  • Goal of NPOV and professionalism
  • Balance through diversity
  • The option to do news briefs


Writing your first articles

First start with a synthesis article.  You gather multiple independent sources and read them, then use this to write the story in your own words. It’s important to attributes quotes and claims to relevant sources.


Wikinews allows and encourage original reporting. This is fundamentally different from the way Wikipedia works. There’s an accreditation process.


Wikinews did some interesting investigative work:


  • Wikipedia usage by U.S. Senate staff members. Discovered some fascinating facts.
  • Wikimedia fundraiser highlights webc-omic community’s frustration with Wikipedia guidelines.


Project peculiarities


  • The Weekly quiz (in german, english, spanish, italian)
  • The NPOV-freee Comments: namespace
  • Email addressees for accredited contributors


The Wikimedia foundation has legal issues with giving out press credentials. So they’re working on a new organization to solve this problem. They’re hoping to have this launched for end of summer 2008.


Wikinews also have RSS feeds. This allows you to get news “as it happens” into your feed reader. They’re expanding this with categorization, so you’ll be able to subscribe to only certain categories.


News-edition weekly, is a printed weekly project done in a newspaper style. Depending upon communities support for project should be available in a few months.


There is also large interest in audio-news briefly, done in a podcast format.

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